disability cruising, Handicap, Traveling with disabilities

Disabled Cruisers Guide to Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya, Mexico

For the disabled cruiser visiting Costa Maya the cruise pier has step-free access to exit the pier and exit the port. Inside the port, the ground is flat with large concrete blocks that are joined by some rough spots which makes the walkway not entirely smooth. Unlike other Caribbean islands, this port contains no hills or steep ramps. Costa Maya is home to the Chacchoben Mayan ruins, some of the most wheelchair accessible Mayan ruins anywhere with grass and dirt paths without steps throughout most of the site.

While there is a beach close to the cruise pier, disabled access is better in the town of Majahual where a flat, smooth promenade runs along the sand. However, there is no public transportation or private transportation with a wheelchair ramp or wheelchair accessible vans in the town or port area.

The cruise line provides a trolley to exit the pier rather than walking/rolling 660 yards to the port. However, the trolley provided by the cruise lines is not wheelchair accessible. To reach the beach clubs from the port requires transportation as the accessible walk/roll route is 2.5 miles long. Without accessible transportation in the area, this can be a challenge for the disabled cruiser.

Costa Maya, Mexico

If you build it, they will come. Costa Maya, located on a peninsula along Mexico’s Caribbean coast, about 100 miles south of Playa del Carmen, feels like a private island created from scratch expressly for cruisers. That’s because it was; developers created the port terminal/faux village complex not far from the Belize border solely to woo cruise lines, and everything; from the manmade malecon, a beachfront pedestrian path in nearby Mahahual, to the beach club used for shore excursions; has been created with passengers in mind.

The port itself, which opened for business in February 2001, features myriad facilities in its village; pools, restaurants, brand-name bars such as Carlos ‘n Charlie’s, shops, a dolphin experience and a small beach (though it’s too rocky to swim). The port developers also own a club and water sports area on Uvero Beach, which is actually away from the terminal and is typically used by cruise lines as a shore-excursion option. Besides the amenities that tourists see, developers took care of the essentials outside the village; brick-paved roads, concrete cottages for employees, who all come from elsewhere, and a water-sanitation system.

Where You’re Docked

Ships dock right at Costa Maya’s purpose-built facilities. While the pier is long, a free shuttle bus ferries passengers back and forth.

The terminal, a faux village created solely for cruise passengers, is just steps from the dock. The pier-side complex features a number of free-to-use pools, one of which is huge with a swim-up bar; restaurants, bars and shops including the usual suspects like Diamonds International; and a small beach lined with chairs and hammocks for relaxing.

Good to Know

Because of the area’s small size, Costa Maya and Mahahual have very little crime. The only real hassle are the vendors who walk on the beach, but a simple “no gracias” sends them along.

Getting Around

Note: There are no accessible vans available in Costa Maya. The Disabled Cruiser must be able to step up into a regular mini-van or SUV, and transfer to regular seat.

On Foot: Some people do try to walk into Mahahual, but it’s a hot trek that can take up to 45 minutes. Once you’re in the town, it’s easy to walk the entire strip.

By Taxi: The five-minute taxi ride into Mahahual is about $8 per person round-trip. You can easily find taxis in both the port and also once you’re in town.

By Shuttle Bus: Local buses to Mahahual pick up behind the shopping area; tickets for the $3 fare must be purchased in advance and are sold at a booth located in the same area.

By Car: If you’d like to drive on your own without relying on the local buses, golf carts and Jeeps are also available for rent for around $75 per day.


While the stores at the port sell the usual trinkets (as do the vendors on the beach, albeit at lower prices), keep your eyes out for colorful Mayan embroidery and textiles, including handkerchiefs, table runners, placemats and dresses.

A variety of Mexican chains, such as Carlos ‘n Charlies and Senor Frog’s, are located within the port village. Within Mahahual, it’s easy to find menus with the standard Mexican favorites, such as guacamole, chips and pico de gallo and tacos. A growing Italian population has raised the bar somewhat, however, and many of the hotels that serve food are run by Europeans, offering more sophisticated choices.

Points of Interest

  • Chacchoben Mayan Ruins – Mayan for the “place of red corn,” these astounding ruins south of Tulum date from the 4th century. Explore the circular paths, the three imposing pyramids, and ponder the mysterious hieroglyphics. The Disabled Cruiser will enjoy the ruins using grass and dirt paths without steps throughout most of the site.
  • Dzibanche Mayan Ruins – Explore Costa Maya’s best kept secret from the Temple of the Owls and the Temple of the Captives to the landscaped grounds ringed by jungle. Along the way, seek clues into ancient Mayan society. For the Disabled Cruiser wishing to visit the ruins of Dzibanche, it is possible for everyone, however persons with wheelchairs may have big problems with the tree roots around the ruins.
  • Mayan Cultural Experience – See Costa Maya through the eyes of the Maya on a cultural immersion tour. Listen to the modern Maya language, learn about time-honored traditions, join in on a home-cooked meal and meet a local family.
  • Uvero Beach Club – A visit to one of Costa Maya’s most luxurious resorts lets you sunbathe on a sun lounger, relax in a hammock, take a swim in the ocean, play beach volleyball and enjoy the restaurants and bars.
  • Snorkeling & Diving – The area is paradise for divers and snorkelers. Sea turtles glide through pristine waters, dolphins skim the waves, and vibrant coral and reef fishes thrive.
  • Outdoor Adventure – Costa Maya offers something for everyone from an ocean of watersports, such as kayaking, to exploration of the region’s ancient Mayan culture.
  • Beaches – This area of the Yucatan is known for its pristine beaches. The town of Mahahual is situated along a lovely stretch of white sand and turquoise waters.

Costa Maya Accessible Excursions

Costa Maya is located on the Mayan Riviera, so named because it was the home of the Mayans. Lush jungle vegetation is juxtaposed with beautiful beaches or take a drive through the jungle and see an amazing combination of birds and mammals, like the wild deer and jaguars, spider monkeys, monkeys, and even alligators.

Classic Costa Maya Accessible Cruise Excursion

This 5 hour accessible cruise excursion begins with an intriguing introduction of Costa Maya. Your local private tour guide will then show you the Chacchoben ruins with 70 Mayan structures. The ruins are situated in the jungle and truly bring you to the heart of the Mayan culture. 

Tour Highlights:

  • Chacchoben Ruins
  • Local culture
  • Wildlife
  • Scenic jungle
  • Visit to Mahahual

*No accessible van is available. The disabled traveler must be able to step up into a regular mini-van or SUV, and transfer to regular seat.

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Accessible Tour

This 4 hour accessible cruise excursion begins with your friendly guide/driver meeting you outside the port complex in an air-conditioned van or low car before you begin your beautiful ride through the Costa Mayan jungle, where the Chacchoben ruins site is hidden.

Tour Highlights:

  • Chacchoben Ruins
  • Wildlife
  • Scenic jungle
  • Arrival before large tourist groups

*No accessible van is available. The disabled traveler must be able to step up into a regular mini-van or SUV, and transfer to regular seat.

For Costa Maya Accessible Excursions please click here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s